What Does Chalk Mean in Sports Betting?


Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images. Pictured: Qatar Goodwood Festival 2018

Chalk in sports betting refers to the betting favorite, more often a heavy favorite.

It can linguistically take many forms:

  • “It was a chalky NFL Sunday”
  • “You only bet chalk, you coward”
  • “The chalk cleaned up in the first round of the NCAA Tournament”

Why Do We Call it Chalk?

The term chalk originates from the days when horse tracks didn’t have computerized screens or tickers. They had to write odds on chalkboards.

Bettors took favorites more often (in that era and today), so those odds got more frequent updates on the board.

Eventually, the horse’s name that kept drawing action was covered in chalk dust.

Next in Betting Education 101: Backdoor Cover

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